A NEW homes and gardens superstore being opened by retail giant Next in Suffolk next month will create 250 new jobs, it has been revealed.

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The new 52,677 sq ft store, at Martlesham Heath, near Ipswich, is only the second to be launched by the company under its Next Home and Garden format.

Besides Next’s women’s, men’s and children’s fashion ranges and its homewares collection, the new store, due to open towards the end of next month, will also offer garden and DIY products.

Although Next is established in the homewares sector as well as fashion, it is only the group’s second store to sell DIY and garden lines, following the opening of its first Home and Garden store in Shoreham-by-Sea in West Sussex last August.

The home improvement department will include paints, tiles and DIY equipment as well as flooring, carpets and bathrooms while the garden section will include plants, tools, lawn mowers and outdoor living lines including barbecues.

The new store at Martlesham Heath has been created through a major refurbishment of the former Focus DIY store on the Beardmore Park retail estate.

Next purchased the site following the collapse into administration last year of Focus, which operated a total of 178 stores across the county and employed around 3,900 people.

Rival DIY retailers Wickes and B&M acquired 24 Focus stores between them as going concerns – including in Wickes’ case the Maldon branch in Essex – with staff retaining their jobs but most of the Focus stores were closed.

However, Focus stores in Sudbury, Haverhill and Thetford were among a total of 55 sites acquired by Kingfisher and they re-opened under its B&Q brand later in the year, creating a total of 86 jobs across the three locations.

The 250 new jobs to be created by Next at Martlesham, slightly more than expected when the scheme was announced in January, means that more than 1,000 people are set to find work in out-of-town-centre retail developments in and around Ipswich over the next year or so.

Fashion retailer Matalan is thought to have created around 100 jobs with the opening of a store on the Orwell Retail Park off Ranelagh Road and preliminary work began last month on the construction of new Waitrose and John Lewis at Home stores, expected to open next spring, on part of the former Crane site off Nacton Road.

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